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Thread: Tile patterns with different thickness of tile

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    DIY Junior Member Searider's Avatar
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    Default Tile patterns with different thickness of tile

    I am wanting to lay tile on the floor and wall of a bathroom. I want to use large ceramic tiles (12x14) with a row of 1x1 tiles in between. The 1x1 tiles are not the same thickness as the 12x14 tiles. My question is, how much of a problem, if any, will this cause me?

    thx

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Depends on how handy you are! One of the hassles with smaller tile is the thinset filling the gaps between tile when you press them in to set them. To get these even with the thicker tile will require a thicker layer of thinset. With thicker thinset, getting the tile on an even plane is also tougher since they can tilt or sag in the process. If you get the tile below and above in place, you can use a block to press the small tile in so they are flush and flat. You could use something like a grout float to press them in place as it would be big enough to span onto both of the larger tile.

    How much difference is there in the thickness of the tile? If it was say 1/8" or so, you could use a 1/8" notched trowel trowel on that strip, let it set overnight, then apply more thinset to set the tile. You'd want to scrape off any thinset above that 1" strip, otherwise it might hold the larger tiles off the wall more. No problem if you scrape it off a little short of the tile, though. Those notches would act like a little bridge underneath to hold it up just that extra amount. The hassle is, you end up waiting a day in between. this often isn't a big deal with a DIY'er, since time might be contrained. You can set it all at the same time, but be prepared to dig out some thinset between the tiles before you can grout it.

    Another technique that can work is to take some HardiBacker and split it. Sounds tough, but the stuff is made up of layers, and you can split it off the desired thickness (or close!). Takes a bit of practice, but it can be done in a strip like that.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Doing this on the floor is trickier, because the floor needs to be "just right". On the wall, if you put mastic on the wall, and back butter the tile, thickness of mastic by trial and error. I have done this and it works well. As I said, I don't know about the floor!

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    While there are some mastics that can be used in wet areas, I do not know of any that can be used with large format tile, plus, it is much more expensive than thinset. Thinset is the preferred material for most tile applications for durability and economy and holds up well in wet areas.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    jad...you are probably right about the large tiles, but I have done quite a few showers over the years using TYPE 1 mastic on the walls. I find it more user friendly than thinset, but that is probalby why I am not a tile layer ( officially )!

    Floors are always thinset of course.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you read the fine print on most mastics (all that I've looked at), they do not allow use on tile over a certain size - some as small as 10"x10". The reason mastic stays useable in a bucket in the store is it can't dry out. A large tile does the same thing - it prevents it from drying out - it can literally take months, if at all, then add moisture from the shower. Also, most mastics can re-emulsify if they get wet. Ideally that shouldn't happen in a shower, but think about the floor?! Maybe in a tub/shower.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member TWEAK's Avatar
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    I've never used mastic, so can't comment on its relative merits. I do know that cement based materials like thinset and medium bed mortar have never let me down, are cheap, and are what the pros tend to use. The only time I won't use thinset or medium bed martar is when it's not recommended for the tile - like resin backed stone. In that case, I like something else - often Latapoxy 300.

    In this case, cement based settign material is IMO absolutely the right material to use to solve the problem the original poster has. For one simple reason: Mastic comes pre-mixed... with thinset you can make up a stiffer mix... that will really help achieve a level surface with your thinner tile to the thicker one. Backbutter each 1x1 to get them level. After a few, you'll get a feel for how much to use.

    Keep your thinset total thickness to 1/4" max. If the thickness of the tile and/or floor waviness conditions will cause you to need to go thicker than that, get medium bed mortar instead of thinset. It more or less handles about the same as thinset, but you can go to a thicker layer.

    Don't mix your mortar loose. You'll end up with a mess.
    Last edited by TWEAK; 11-20-2010 at 10:51 AM.

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